Northwestern Bar Night (and more Chalupa debate) - 9/25/04
Last night we had our first-ever Northwestern Bar Night at Q's up in West L.A.. It was a chance for some old purple-and-white alumni to see each other again and shoot the shit and drink some beers... just like we did every day of college. As I've said it's difficult to keep in frequent touch with all the 'Cats living in Los Angeles, since we're all so busy and I live in South Bay. So a central location and a neutral Friday night (all though it happened to be during Yom Kippur) was a solid solution.

The casual event brought out such old friends as Revin (starting her MBA at UCLA), Jodi (starting with a new production company affiliated with Dreamworks), and Treem (getting back from London to resume his PR Masters as USC). Ah yes, now I remember what the productive members of our graduating class are doing with their lives.

Amidst the beers and bonding, however, a rather intense debate broke out between Treem and myself about the results of the Chalupa/Gordita showdown earlier this week. Spurred by my challenge, Treem went out and tested for himself. And while I determined the crunchier Chalupa to be the finer treat, Treem insisted that the blue ribbon be awarded to the softer, yummier Gordita.

This was all very troubling to me, since I had just started to move on from my Gordita phase and begun to accept Chalupa as my new love. And now he had to go and stir everything up again. But I was willing to hear his argument - after all, this is far too big a decision for one man to make.

The main thrust of Treem's case was that the Chalupa has one major flaw - that it can't decide if it's a soft item or a hard item. Lacking both the malleable flour wrap of the burrito and the crisp, cracker-like shell of the hard taco, the Chalupa finds itself without a true home on the Taco Bell menu, and can't quite deliver a confident taste. This "not-quite-crunchy-not-quite-not" exterior, mixed with, as Treem put it, a "bland amalgamation of meat and sauce", led to an overall disappointing taste experience for him, far inferior to the delicious Gordita, which "scored a touchdown on every taste-bud."

While I respected his use of the word "amalgamation," I felt I must rebut. Would a politician take a radical stance on the issue of crispy? Not if he wanted to appeal to the majority voter. If you're going to be the all-around best Taco Bell item, you have to strike a balance. You can't just pander to the finicky food fancies of the left-wing softies or the right-wing crunchies. A Ralph Nader Burrito wouldn't stand a chance.

But Treem was having none of this wishy-wash. A Chalupa is not a presidential candidate, he said. A shell needs to take a stand. It needs to forge its identity, and stand by it. None of this vacillating, "sitting on the fence of crispy."

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. There was one thing, however, on which I think both Treem and I would concur. The central battleground of the ongoing war between Chalupa and Gordita must be the shell, and not the filling. Because we all know everything at Taco Bell is made of the same five ingredients anyway.



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